Kootenai Fishing Access
Below Libby Dam, there are ample fishing accesses and boat launches. We brought along our Clackacraft drift boat which was perfect for the Kootenai. On this trip, we concentrated on learning the water from Blackwell Flats to Osprey Landing and floated this stretch several days.
There is a boat launch in Libby and a take-out just downstream before the falls at Bighorn Terrace. There are more accesses/launches after the gorge in the town of Troy, MT.
The Kootenai is a big river but we noted several places to wade the river. Along Highway 37 on the way to the dam, there are several places to pull over and wade fish. In Libby, below the Big Horn Terrace, access for the wading angler is quite good.
My Big Fish Story
We found an interesting spot just under the Highway 37 bridge near Blackwell Flats to wade. We followed an old railbed to the Fisher River. From there, we walked along the Fisher to the Kootenai. Just below the confluence, there is a gravel bar that extends out. Wading on the gravel bar was easy.
Here I hooked fish that was about as long as my leg – no joke. After catching nothing but smaller trout all week, I was surprised to hook into such a big fish. For at least the first 10 minutes, I am sure the fish did not even know he was hooked. The fish was clearly in control and I was left to hold on and tremble.
In a dry bag on my back was 30 lbs of camera equipment. It might well have been 100 miles away. I could hold onto the rod and the fish and get to the cameras. I hollered to my friend downstream who waved back in support. I yelled out to Tim upstream who waved me off and said he couldn’t hear me. So I just held on, trembling and hoping.
Another ten minutes pass. I’m growing weary and I’m guessing the fish has figured out something isn’t right. Still, he has not made any big run and I find that odd. So I test my luck. I lean in and pull him closer. My fly rod is nearly doubled over. The fish agrees and for the first time, I see its shadow. My trembling increases as I ease off the tension. The fish glides back into the current. I collect myself and summon strength. I bring the big fish closer still. I am amazed by its girth. I’m sure its a trout and I know it will be the largest I’ve ever caught.
I have no net. I call out again to my chums, no one cares. I appreciate the confidence they have in my angling prowess, but seriously, what will I do with this fish in the calm waters of the gravel bar?!?
It’s now or never. I bring the big fish in again. It’s becoming clearer and clearer to see as it leaves the fast water and glides into the calm water.
And then it’s gone. No fight, no run, no splash. How can that be? As I pulled in the #14 Red Copper John for inspection, I marvel at how straight the hook is. While I thought I was playing that big fish, I think he was just playing me.